CPR: Child parent relationship

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

The Torah passages and Israel's holidays are full of important messages that are relevant and empower our day-today lives. Rabbi Shai Tahan, head of the Sha'arei Ezra community and head of the Arzi HaLebanon teaching house, opens the gates for us to understand these messages, from their source, in a clear way. This week: CPR: Child Parent Relationship

At the end of Parashat Be’alotcha the Torah makes an analogy of how a child feels when being rebuked by his father. The Pasuk says (במדבר יב,יד): “If her father were to spit in her face, would she not be humiliated for seven days?”. Rashi and Unkelus explain that the Pasuk doesn’t literally mean that the father actually spit at her—rather, it means that the father rebuked and screamed at his daughter. Why then the does the Torah not say things the way they are? The Torah should have said “if the father screamed at her, would she not be humiliated?" instead, the Torah says that her father spit at her; why?

The answer to the above question is very important. The Torah doesn’t say what happened in reality for the Torah focuses on something of far greater value, the way the child feels when his father screams at him. The Torah says that he feels like his father just spits in his face in disrespect. Rashi fills us in on what exactly happened, that the child feels that way and says that the father actually screamed at him.

When a parent raises his voice or yells at his child, it can have a significant emotional impact on the child. It is not uncommon for a child to feel hurt, disrespected, or belittled in such situations. The child may interpret the yelling as a form of punishment or as a personal attack, leading to feelings of shame, guilt, or a sense of being spited.

Yelling or raising one's voice can create a hostile and intimidating atmosphere, which can negatively affect the parent-child relationship and the child's emotional well-being. It can also undermine the child's self-esteem and confidence, potentially leading to long-term emotional consequences.

It is important for parents to be mindful of their emotions and responses when interacting with their children. Finding healthier and more constructive ways to express frustration or address behavioral issues is crucial. Effective communication, active listening, and using calm and respectful tones can help create a supportive and nurturing environment for the child.

If so, one may ask, why was Hashem screaming at Miriam at this instance?

As explained above, raising one's voice or screaming at a child should generally be avoided as it can have negative consequences on the child's emotional well-being. However, there may be rare instances where a parent may feel compelled to raise their voice out of concern for their child's immediate safety or in an urgent situation.

For example, if there is an immediate danger such as a child running into a busy street, touching a hot stove, or engaging in a potentially harmful activity, a parent might yell or raise their voice in order to quickly get the child's attention and prevent them from getting hurt.

In such cases, the intention behind raising the voice is to protect the child and ensure their safety. 

In the story of Miriam, we see that Hashem recognized the gravity of the situation and took immediate action to address it. According to Rabenu Bechayei, Miriam's actions of speaking against Moshe, who was representing Hashem, can be seen as a form of Chilul Hashem, which refers to behavior that brings shame or disrespect to Hashem, Judaism, or the Jewish community.

Chilul Hashem is considered a severe transgression with far-reaching consequences. To prevent the Chilul Hashem from spreading further, Hashem rebuked Miriam in a strong manner, demonstrating the seriousness with which this offense is regarded.

By swiftly addressing the situation, Hashem ensured that the sanctity of His Name and the integrity of Judaism were preserved. 

This story serves as a reminder of the immense responsibility we have as parents in how we address and guide our children. It highlights the importance of balancing our approach by providing education with love and respect, while minimizing the need for rebuke. However, we must also be vigilant in ensuring that our children do not engage in dangerous behaviors.

It is crucial to cultivate an environment of love, understanding, and respect when interacting with our children. By doing so, we can foster a strong bond and create a safe space for them to grow and learn. Open communication, active listening, and positive reinforcement can be effective tools in guiding their behavior and instilling important values.

At the same time, it is essential to remain aware of potential dangers and to set clear boundaries to protect our children from harm. This involves providing appropriate supervision and guidance to prevent them from engaging in risky or harmful behavior.

Ultimately, finding the right balance between nurturing and discipline can be a challenge, but by approaching our role as parents with caution and understanding, we can help our children develop into responsible and well-rounded individuals.

This article was written in cooperation with Shuva Israel